NBA players ready to rock Palestra

Posted: September 13, 2011

LATER THIS month, the glorious old Palestra will host a basketball game featuring the type of action the old building has rarely seen in its 84-year existence.

With the NBA season on hold due to the expired collective bargaining agreement, players are balling where, and when, they can. The where is the Palestra. The when is Sunday, Sept. 25.

A group led by New York Knicks superstar Carmelo Anthony, will compete against a team made up of players primarily with Philadelphia ties.

The Anthony team is set to include megastars LeBron James (Miami), Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City) and Chris Paul (New Orleans). The team could also include former La Salle star Gary Neal (San Antonio), Eric Bledsoe (Los Angeles Clippers), Donte Greene (Sacramento) and Josh Selby (Memphis).

Slated to be headlining the Philly team is 76ers guard Lou Williams. He is supposed to be joined by Episcopal Academy grad Wayne Ellington (Minnesota), South Jersey native Jason Thompson (Sacramento) and Friends' Central product Hakim Warrick, now with the Suns. Former Prep Charter stars Markieff and Marcus Morris are also scheduled to appear, but the twins have a commitment at the University of Kansas the day before the Palestra game.

Markieff was taken 13th in this year's draft by the Suns, while Marcus went with the next pick to the Rockets.

Tickets for the game, which will begin at 6 p.m., will be available online at a site expected to be named this afternoon on organizer Rahim Thompson's Twitter account, @RTChosenLeague.

Thompson said last night he should be tweeting the site around 1 p.m. Tickets also will be on sale today at the Palestra box office. Lower level seats will cost $50, while upper level seats will be $35. The Palestra holds just under 9,000 for basketball.

"I got the logistics worked out a little while ago, and then when I got together with Hakim he was able to get in touch with the players," said Thompson, the founder of a Philly hoops league called the Chosen League. "The Eagles will be having their home opener that day so it's going to be a great sports day for Philadelphia.

"We are going to sell every ticket in advance, so we don't foresee a problem with an overflow crowd."

Two weeks ago, Anthony, James, Paul and Durant played an exhibition at Morgan State University. The Hill Field House holds 4,500, but there were several hundred more people packed around the court. Baltimore is Anthony's hometown.

"My Philadelphia All-Stars look forward to getting on the court and proving to Melo and the people of Baltimore/D.C. that the best ballers come out of Philly," Warrick said in a statement.

A portion of the revenue from the game will go to local charities, including the West Philadelphia Community Center, where Warrick played basketball as a youngster.

"We are extremely lucky to be working with the people at the University of Pennsylvania for this event," said Thompson. "They have handled some very big events before so they know exactly what they are doing. It is going to be a spectacular event."

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